A few weeks ago, we unexpectedly found out that my younger son needed surgery. This entailed a quick, but non-urgent trip to a specialist. The specialist’s office has new patient paperwork online to download, complete and bring to your first appointment. Fantastic! I was excited to be able to complete the paperwork before sitting in the waiting room with a wild preschooler running around.
Then I downloaded the forms.
Blurred lines, grey type. Clearly a poorly scanned copy of a really old printed document. Most definitely not a fillable form.
I hit “print,” and dutifully started filling the form out.
While clearly included in a packet titled “Pediatric Forms,” the form turns out to be a hastily adjusted version of an adult form. First the form asks for the patient’s contact info. Then has a space for one emergency contact’s info, complete with home, mobile and work. All good, except there’s no clarity on what should be the patient’s info vs the parent’s info.
Are we the emergency contacts? Or is it asking for our info in the patient info line and then another emergency contact? Either way, there’s no space to input separate phone numbers for each parent. With as many years as cell phones have been around, this seems crazy. I hacked together my own notations that Home meant my husband’s mobile and Mobile meant my mobile and continued on.
The paperwork was completed, the surgery was scheduled, and the office clearly had our information and was able to contact us. However, customer data is a key piece of information for a doctor’s office. While the core competency is practicing medicine, patient data and communication is a close second.
How does this apply to your own work?
Old, outdated content and unclear forms don’t instill extra confidence in any business. In this case, the business is a well regarded surgeon in our area, and patients have limited options for his speciality. It would appear that outdated forms aren’t affecting his bottom line enough for him to do something about it and he’s able to get away with it.
Do you want to “get away with” having your information unclear? Are you able to? Or is it directly affecting your bottom line?
Wouldn’t you rather be known as having the best, most up-to-date information around? I would.
We live in a day and age where information quickly becomes out outdated.
As much as we obsess over what we’re doing, the reality is that we are entirely too close to our own work to see it as the consumer truly sees it. This happens even if we are in our own target market (which isn’t always the case!).
Regularly check for outdated content
Your marketing doesn’t have nearly the reach you think it does. What’s obvious to you may be super-obscure to even an avid consumer in your target market.
Are the key benefits of your product actually stated publicly and easily to find? Or have you assumed they are publicly stated and easy to find because you’ve paid so much attention to them and know them so well?
99.9% of consumers aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think they are.
Key questions to ask as you review content
What forms, process or policies do you have that may be outdated? Regularly review your forms and make updates where necessary. Don’t overcomplicate this. An easy way to start is to review a form or document every time you use it.
How can you look at your work with a fresh set of eyes to see what may be outdated? Consider asking customers to provide feedback or asking a new employee to review while they still have the fresh eyes of an ‘outsider.’
What could unclear to your consumer, vendors and colleagues?
Review your marketing materials critically to see what may be outdated or incomplete. Bonus: Ask someone who is not very close to your work to review and given an honest assessment. You might be surprised at what they do (and don’t) take away.